NFC East: Oldie but goodie

July, 15, 2011
7/15/11
1:00
PM ET
Projecting the best 30-and-over player in the division at the start of the 2014 season.

Of the NFC East players who will turn 30 before the start of the 2014 season, I predict the one that will still be going the strongest is Eli Manning of the New York Giants.

It was no easy call, considering that the current quarterbacks of the Dallas Cowboys and Philadelphia Eagles are only one year older than Manning is. And there were, of course, other players and positions to consider. But the rules of today's NFL help quarterbacks first. Manning, like big brother Peyton, doesn't take a lot of sacks. The Giants have surrounded him with good receivers and a good running game and, I assume, will make sure to fix the offensive line before it gets too brittle. I also think Manning has shown steady improvement every year. (And yes, I know about last season's 25 interceptions. I think there's a decent chance that number was an aberration.) He was brought into his starting role the old-fashioned way, learning behind Kurt Warner as a rookie. He won a Super Bowl title as a young man and knows how to handle the pressure of big games and the New York market. He's got the temperament to succeed well into his 30s as long as he stays healthy, and I believe he's in a good position to do so.

Fun exercise. FYI, I also considered the following players (listed with their September 2014 ages): Miles Austin (30), Justin Tuck (31), DeMarcus Ware (32), Chris Cooley (32), Trent Cole (32), Tony Romo (34) and Michael Vick (34).

Dan Graziano

ESPN New York Giants reporter

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